Sunday, June 03, 2012
I’m on on the south side of Chicago in Hyde Park, in President Obama’s neighborhood. Hype Park isn’t the urban jungle of poor and violent Black people that white people picture when they think of the southside. But Hyde Park is in the middle of it, anchored and isolated by the seemingly infinitely wealthy and mostly white University of Chicago with its own well equipped police force, in addition to the Chicago Police department, that protects its students and faculty on this island of privilege.
And President Obama is home today raising millions for his campaign war chest.
I’m writing this entry from an old red brick mansion used to create the atomic bomb, later home to the Bulletin of The Atomic Scientists. Today, after years of disuse, its final incarnation is a series of U of C graduate students' art studios. Outside is a community garden with raised beds due to the soils 440 ppm lead count. 400ppm would be normal. The students call it Doomsday, which is in keeping with today’s unemployment numbers.
Earlier, while ordering a sandwich in a Hyde Park deli, a Black mother read the headline of today’s Chicago Sun Times newspaper, entitled “President Obama’s Job Problem.” She remarked to her husband that, “No president had to deal with as much as he has.” Continuing the myth that the titanic called the American economy is everybody’s fault but President Obama’s. President Obama didn’t create this mess, but by entrusting U.S. economic policy to the very same silk stocking bankers who destroyed our economy, he has held the course while being a good steward of the American Empire, just like George W. Bush. President Obama has turned his back on the legacy of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Lyndon Baines Johnson, who lifted the United States out of very dark times by first admitting that we were in a crisis and then charting a drastic course of change.
The Southside of Chicago is 95 percent Black and the University of Chicago is expanding: encroaching further into West Garfield Park and building multimillion dollar buildings where Black homes used to be. Yet, I have not seen one Black construction worker, and Black unemployment is around 60 percent in West Garfield Park. The poverty rate of Black children is 38 percent, but this President avoids the word poverty like the plague, as opposed to rallying the country around the crises of poverty and unemployment. For the month of May, only 69,000 jobs were created and the March and April numbers then heralded by President Obama were over-inflated by 49,000 jobs, meaning a net increase of a measly 20,000 jobs, which doesn’t come close to matching the population growth. And the jobs that were created are service sector jobs or “Macjobs” suitable for high school students, but nonetheless snatched up by displaced adult workers.
Meanwhile under the Obama watch, not only are many states imposing crippling restrictions on the recently jobless applying for unemployment but, by the end of June, Emergency Unemployment benefits will permanently terminate in twenty-four states, and by the end of August in another thirty-five states. This will dump another 500, 000 Americans off unemployment and out of the employment radar screen. And because even liberal news outlets refuse to speak to the thousands of people who’ve given up looking for work and are no longer counted in the unemployment numbers because their benefits have ended, I would not be surprised if the Obama administration starts proudly proclaiming that the unemployment fell by 500,000 to boost his chances of wining the election.
I still maintain that President Obama has done more for the corporate banking institutions and the war profiteers than he’s done for the poor and working class, and in this equation I think he’s done less for Black people over all. And because he’s Black, we have allowed him to get away with policies and a lack of action that would have stirred outrage if he were white.